With pristine beaches, decadent restaurants, and a variety of outdoor adventures, Orange County in California is one of the most romantic destinations on the West Coast, perfect for a weekend getaway with your special someone.
Whether you're just visiting for the day or you've taken up residence here, there are plenty of things to do in Orange County that appeal to a variety of different tastes—from the outdoor enthusiast to the high-life socialite, you're sure to find something romantic.
Cities in Orange County include Anaheim, home of Disneyland; Newport Beach, one of America's richest cities; and Huntington Beach, home of the International Surfing Museum and the Huntington Beach Pier, all of which make great destinations for romantic dates.
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Whether it's a sunset stroll, sharing a picnic, taking a horse-drawn carriage ride for two, or baring some skin on the sand, Orange County has a variety of beaches with different personalities, each of which can be romantic in its own way. Crystal Cove is great for tidepool gazing Huntington Beach has carriages and tandem bikes to rent, and Laguna Beach is a picturesque spot for a romantic walk.
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There are numerous places to take a romantic gondola ride in Southern California, but in Orange County, you can take a gondola cruise with Sunset Gondola through Huntington Harbor in Huntington Beach or from The Gondola Company or Gondola Adventures in Newport Beach.
If you plan on taking a gondola ride, remember that Los Angeles gets much cooler at night, especially on the water, so bring a light jacket or cuddle up to stay warm.
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Staring out at the ocean from the beach isn't the only romantic thing you can do along California's coastline—you could take a champagne brunch cruise, a sunset cruise, or go all out and charter a sailboat for a sunset sail.
For a little privacy, you can rent an electric Duffy to have a picnic cruising the Newport Harbor, or for something more energetic, rent kayaks to ply the still waters of the bay with just the two of you.
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There's no better way to see Orange County than by helicopter, and there are a number of helicopter tours you can take from the John Wayne Airport in Orange County.
Spots fill up quickly, especially in the heavy tourist seasons of winter and summer, so book your flight well in advance to get a sunset spot on a romantic helicopter tour of the Orange County coast. Flights range from a 10-minute "Get Your Feet Wet" tour to a 25-minute beach tour.Continue to 5 of 15 below.
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From swing and country two-step to the Latin dances of the cha-cha and meringue, if you and your partner love dancing but don't quite know how to do these classic dance styles, there are plenty of classes for couples in Orange County.
You can sign up for private dance lessons at places like The OC Dance Studio, or take a public class together in a group setting if you're not ready for that level of intimate study.
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If you're looking for a more casual evening of learning, drinking, and painting, you and your partner could attend an open session or private lesson at Brushstrokes in Tustin, which is just north of Irvine. Advertised as the "Paint and Party Place," Brushstrokes is a great place for a casual evening of exploring your creative side with your loved one without the pressures of going out on the town.
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A classic intimate dinner for two is a longstanding tradition of romance for many, and Orange County has plenty of restaurants that could be considered romantic in different ways.
From the decadent (and expensive) oceanfront Splashes Restaurant in the Surf and Sand Resort on Laguna Beach to Napa Rose at Disneyland in Anaheim, there's no shortage of high-end restaurants in Orange County. You could also stop by Walt's Wharf in Seal Beach or Luciana's Ristorante in Dana Point for slightly cheaper dining with all the romance intact.
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A day trip to Disneyland is the perfect way to rediscover the magic of your youth with your partner in the "happiest place on earth." Couples with a good sense of fun can find all kinds of romance at the Disneyland Resort, from exploring the best places to kiss at Disneyland to fine dining at the Blue Bayou Restaurant, where you're seated on a dimly lit waterfront terrace with the "Pirates of the Caribbean" boats passing by.Continue to 9 of 15 below.
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If the crowds (or price point) for Disneyland is a bit too much for your ideal date but you still want to spend the day wandering through an amusement park, the Balboa Fun Zone Island on Newport Beach is the perfect way to experience a classic romantic date in Orange County.
One of the oldest southern California beach amusement parks, the Balboa Fun Zone offers an old-timey Ferris wheel with views of the entire beach and the Pacific Ocean, the Balboa Pier, and several boutique shops.
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If you've got a sweet tooth, Too Sweet on Newport Beach's Balboa Island is a great way to end a date night. Browse through thousands of tasty confections and pick out the perfect dessert, then head out to the nearby beach to catch the sunset over the waves while you enjoy these tasty candies, cakes, and cookies.
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If you'd rather spend your romantic getaway relaxed and pampered, the five-star, five-diamond Resort at Pelican Hill is one of the area's best all-inclusive vacation destinations. Located on over 500 acres of coastal land, the Resort at Pelican Hill features three miles of beaches at Crystal Cove, an iconic "Coliseum Pool," two ocean-view golf courses, and a number of seasonal events. Although the price might be a little high for this resort, it's certainly worth every penny to share an unforgettable getaway.
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Also known as "The Crown of the Sea," Corona Del Mar Beach is located just south of Newport Beach but offers one of the best views of the Pacific Ocean in southern California from Inspiration Point. This public park is great for an evening stroll, an afternoon of whale watching, or just hanging out with your special someone while taking in the views.Continue to 13 of 15 below.
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The Old Towne Orange Walking Food Tour is a great way to taste a lot of local cuisines while spending the whole day with your partner. Restaurants on the tour include Citrus City Grille, Cafe Lucca, Felix Continental Cafe, and Watsons Drug and Soda Fountain, which has remained open since it was first established in 1899.
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If you're not really a foodie, or just want to drink a little on your romantic getaway, taking a tour of one of the many vineyards in Orange County is a great way to spend a romantic afternoon. Choose from a variety of adventures with a touring company like "Explore Estate Wineries," which brings guests to Silverado Canyon's Giracci Vineyards and the Cowboy Canyon Winery. Or consider the "Ecological Refuge and Resort" tour, which takes you to a wildlife refuge where you can see rescued animals while sipping on some local wines at Rancho Las Lomas.
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If you're visiting Orange County in the spring or summer, a walk around Corona del Mar's Sherman Library and Botanical Gardens to enjoy a wide range of exotic and domestic plants and flowers is a great way to spend the afternoon. Although the library is only open on weekdays, the botanical gardens are open year-round (excluding holidays), and there's even a miniature garden gnome village to discover!